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Induction of Oxidative DNA Damage by Flavonoids of Propolis: Its Mechanism and Implication about Antioxidant Capacity

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journal contribution
posted on 13.01.2012 by Yi-Chih Tsai, Yi-Hsiang Wang, Chih-Chiang Liou, Yu-Cun Lin, Haimei Huang, Yin-Chang Liu
Propolis from beehives is commonly used as a home remedy for various purposes including as a topical antiseptic. Despite its antioxidant capacity, propolis induces oxidative DNA damage. In exploring the underlying mechanism, we found that the induction of oxidative DNA damage is attributed to the hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) produced by propolis. The formation of H2O2 can take place without the participation of cells but requires the presence of transition metal ions such as iron. Flavonoids such as galangin, chrysin, and pinocembrin that are commonly detected in propolis have the capacity to induce oxidative DNA damage, and that capacity correlates with the production of H2O2, suggesting the involvement of flavonoids in propolis in this process. On the basis of these results, we propose that the flavonoids of propolis serve as temporary carriers of electrons received from transition metal ions that are relayed to oxygen molecules to subsequently generate superoxide and H2O2. In addition, propolis induces oxidative DNA damage that is subject to repair, and propolis-treated cells show a lower level of DNA damage level when challenged with another oxidative agent such as amoxicillin. This is reminiscent of an adaptive response that might contribute to the beneficial effects of propolis.